Sudanese family reunites in AmericaWORTHINGTON — With the aid of a translator, Sudan native Abella Omot said her journey to America in 1996 was due largely to her husband. He had sponsored her to come to America, where he had been working to earn the money to get her and their son out of a Kenyan refugee camp.
By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — With the aid of a translator, Sudan native Abella Omot said her journey to America in 1996 was due largely to her husband. He had sponsored her to come to America, where he had been working to earn the money to get her and their son out of a Kenyan refugee camp.
The family had been living at the refugee camp after fleeing their homeland. Omot said there was a lot of fighting, and they were forced to leave their home.
“We moved from place to place,” she said as they made their way toward safe harbor in Kenya.
After her husband received papers to go to the United States, he found work and raised money to get his wife and son out of the Kenyan refugee camp and bring them to America to join him.
“I loved my husband and I wanted to come,” she said.
The two reunited in Sioux Falls, S.D., and then moved on to Minneapolis before settling in Worthington nearly seven years ago. Omot has worked at the local JBS plant nearly since then, while her husband has since found work in Austin.
The couple has five children — all of whom reside with their mom in Worthington. Naakoo Alwal, the oldest, is 19. Born in Sudan, he was quite young when the family fled to the refugee camp and doesn’t remember anything about life there. The rest of the children, all girls, include 16-year-old Martha, a standout on the Worthington High School girl’s basketball and volleyball teams, 12-year-old twins Achan and Apiew, and 5-year-old Kelka.
Omot sees her children having the kind of life she never had the opportunity to live. Her family was poor in Sudan. She never attended school because the family didn’t have any money to send her, or provide a way for her to get there.
She said that when she came to the United States, she wanted more for her kids.
“Better my kids go to school and I can work,” said Omot, who speaks little English.
But as her children speak fluent English — they speak in their native language at home — and blend in with the American culture, Omot said it’s hard to keep them true to their Sudanese heritage.
“In my country, you stayed home in the evening,” she said. Here, there are sporting events, work and other activities pulling them away.
Omot said while outside influences are strong — her children prefer American food to the food she prepares and her daughters prefer blue jeans to the dresses of their native Sudan — she has taught them to go to school, to study their books and to not fight.